Malaysians Still Dissatisfied with PM Abdullah

Angus Reid Global Monitor | 05-Oct-2008 – Most people in Malaysia are disappointed with the performance of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. 53 per cent of respondents disapprove of the prime minister’s performance, down one point since July.

The ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO)—the biggest party in a coalition of 12 political factions known as the National Front (BN)—has formed the government after every election since the Asian country attained its independence from Britain in 1957.

Abdullah took over as prime minister in October 2003, after the retirement of Mahathir Mohamad, who served for more than 22 years. In the March 2004 election, the National Front secured 198 of the 219 seats in the House of Representatives. Abdullah was sworn in as head of government with the biggest majority in three decades.

In the March 2008 ballot, the National Front won 140 seats in the legislature. The coalition’s share of the vote dropped drastically, from 64.4 per cent in 2004, to 50.27 per cent in 2008. According to Human Rights Watch, the most recent election was “grossly unfair” and marred by irregularities.

On Sept. 29, the Malaysian People’s Movement Party (Gerakan) party—a predominantly ethnic Chinese party and a junior member in the ruling BN coalition—threatened to leave the Abdullah government if it fails to address discrimination against Chinese-descent Malaysians. Gerakan vice-president Teng Hock Nan said that splitting from the coalition is “one of the options” if it is “not willing to initiate drastic changes” on this matter.

Close to seven million ethnic Chinese currently live in Malaysia.

Polling Data

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is performing his job as prime minister?

Sept. 2008Jul. 2008Mar. 2008
Not sure / No reply4%4%6%

Source: Merdeka Center for Opinion Research
Methodology: Telephone Interviews with 1,030 Malaysian voters, conducted Sept. 11 to Sept. 22, 2008. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.